Markham stylist takes on national competition in barber challenge

We’ve all felt the hurt of pandemic restrictions, but no group has been hurt more than workers in service industries, among them stylists and people in the beauty sector. But while restrictions have been eased in recent weeks, there is still a challenge to get workers back into their place of business and have customers feel welcome and comfortable in the salons and parlours again.

With these challenges in mind, the Allied Beauty Association (ABA) a Canadian industry group representing over 200,000 beauty professionals in Canada that promotes and advocates on behalf of the industry, has set up the ABA Barber Challenge. Described as a “once in a lifetime opportunity for junior barbers across Canada to showcase their talent”, the event is coming down to the wire with a Markham resident in the mix for the grand prizes of $15,000 in prizes and education opportunities.

Markham’s Emily Fung is a finalist in the national Barber’s Challenge competition.

Competing against top cutters from B.C., Quebec and Ontario, Markham’s Emily Fung, working out of Pro Wave Hair Salon at Kennedy Square, has so far been part of the top performing group and threatens to win the event. But the prize money is not the important thing for her.

“I decided to enter this competition because I thought it would be a great way to meet other barbers in the industry and to see how far I could push my creativity” she says, noting that the online contest, where contestants work on male mannequin heads was geared for people in her experience group.

Fung, a Markham resident since age 4, had to pass an audition before she could compete for the big bucks. But she sees the unique contest as a stepping stone in her career that has already taken her in very different directions. Fung first thought she would be an accountant and has an honours degree in that field from McMaster University.

“After working behind an office desk for a few years I decided it was not something I enjoyed and

decided to pursue my dream of having a career in arts. I loved painting when I was younger so I thought it would carry over into hair colouring. Hair colouring led to my passion of hair cutting.”

“I plan to continue my pursuit of hair excellency. The hair industry is always changing with new trends so I just hope to continue giving out great haircuts and helping boost my client’s confidence. Within the next 5 years, I hope to perform hair services in the television and film industry.”

Win or not win the final portion of the competition that wraps up online on March 22 at,  Fung has already established herself as a beauty industry up-and-comer and says that the experience has been a great one.

“This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity for Canadian barbers and I feel so incredibly lucky to be a part of this experience.”

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